Category Archives: Take it to court

Ontario court allows lawsuits against wind company and landowners … just a matter of time

211586-a-house-for-sale-hasreduced-price-signCunningham & Gillespie LLP,  Canada Newswire

Court Accepts 22% to 50% Loss of Property Values is Occurring Today; Court and Wind Company also Acknowledge Health and Noise Issues in Context of Motion

TORONTO, April 23, 2013 /CNW/ – In a decision released late yesterday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has determined that while residents of Clearview Township cannot bring claims for a proposed industrial wind project at this time, the ruling is “without prejudice to the plaintiffs’ rights to commence an action for identical or similar relief when and if the Fairview Wind Project receives the necessary approvals to be constructed.” [Para. 6]

The court has specifically recognized that claims against wind companies and against landowners who agree to host wind turbines are possible as soon as projects receive approval. [Para. 37] “There are many people who have been waiting to see how the courts would respond to these types of claims” said lawyer Eric Gillespie, whose firm acts for the plaintiffs in the actions. “It now seems clear that as soon as a project is approved residents can start a claim. This appears to be a major step forward for people with concerns about industrial wind projects across Ontario.”

In addition, Gillespie’s firm acts for other clients in areas where wind projects have been approved. “Dozens of plaintiffs who have already started actions appear to have had the right to bring claims validated” he said. “We can definitely expect more claims now that this door has been opened.” Read article

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Plympton-Wyoming eyes changes to turbine bylaw; meets with Suncor

courtSarnia Lambton This Week
PLYMPTON-WYOMING – The lawyer representing Plympton-Wyoming in its court battle against Suncor’s wind project says the municipality may clarify its bylaw after a recent court decision. This, while the municipality and Suncor meet to try to resolve some of their differences about the Cedar Point Wind Energy Center. Suncor has a plan to build a 100 megawatt project with up to 46 turbines in Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores. Suncor is following the rules set out by the Green Energy Act, including keeping the giant turbines 550 meters from the nearest homes.

But Plympton-Wyoming Council was concerned about that distance saying there are reports of people becoming ill from the sounds and shadow flicker so close to the turbines. It passed its own bylaw under the Municipal Act to have the turbines two kilometers away from homes. Mayor Lonny Napper says the bylaw was passed to protect residents’ health – which is a duty of politicians under the act.

When the province passed the Green Energy Act, it over-ruled every other type of legislation including local municipalities planning authority, but Napper and other municipal politicians believe the Municipal Act doesn’t fall under the Green Energy Act. Suncor disagrees and is taking Plympton-Wyoming to court to challenge the two kilometer limit and two other bylaws which impose high fees for development and a $200,000 deposit per turbine to deal with the cost of removing the towers in the future. Read article

Plympton-Wyoming looks for guidance from Wainfleet decision

Wainfleet Rally 2 (1)By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
A court ruling that went against another municipality’s wind turbine setback bylaw could end up helping Plympton-Wyoming, says its lawyer. Suncor Energy has taken Plympton-Wyoming to court over wind turbine provisions in its bylaws, including a two-kilometre setback like the one in the Niagara-area municipality of Wainfleet Township an Ontario court recently said was invalid.

“The decision gives some guidance that wasn’t available previously,” said lawyer Eric Gillespie. He was hired by Plympton-Wyoming to help it defend its bylaws against Suncor’s challenge. Gillespie said the judge in the Wainfleet case said municipalities have the ability to pass bylaws concerning industrial wind projects, so long as they don’t conflict with the province’s legislation.

“The decision also provides direction regarding the way that some of the provisions of a bylaw should be put together,” Gillespie said. “Both of those elements will likely assist Plympton-Wyoming as we move forward for with its bylaw.” Read article

Mayor still confident in wind turbine stance

plympton wyomingPaul  Morden, Sarnia Observer
Plympton-Wyoming officials plan to consult with their lawyer over a recent court ruling that went against another Ontario municipality’s two-kilometre setback for wind turbines. Plympton-Wyoming is being sued by Suncor Energy over wind turbine provisions in its bylaws, including one that also calls for a two-kilometre setback.

The province only requires wind turbines be built at least 550-metres away from neighbouring properties and its Green Energy Act took planning approval powers for renewable energy projects away from municipalities. A Superior Court of Ontario judge ruled Friday the setback bylaw in the Niagara-area municipality of Wainfleet Township is invalid.

“We’ll be meeting, sooner than later, with our legal team and get some advice as to where we should go from here,” said Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper. “I don’t think it would change our stance any.

“I think we felt very confident with the way we presented our bylaws.” Suncor plans to build as many as 62 wind turbines in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township as part of its Cedar Point Wind Power project. Read article

Activist says she won’t cease and desist

we will not be silentBy Paul Morden, London Free Press
Middlesex County anti-wind turbine activist Esther Wrightman says she’s not giving in to a cease and desist warning from lawyers working for NextEra Energy Canada. A letter, dated March 20, was sent to Wrightman calling on her to remove YouTube videos and wind resistance website postings because of company logos altered to read “NEXTerror” and “Nextterror Bullies Canada Inc.”

“Our request is simply to not use the corporation’s registered, trademarked logo in a manner that is defamatory,” NextEra spokesperson Josie Hernandez said in an email. Hernandez said company officials attempted to contact Wrightman personally to resolve the issue before the letter from the lawyers was sent. Wrightman said phone calls where made to her home but she never spoke directly to those company representatives. “We aren’t trying to limit debate, which is clear from our letter, but we have rights in our logo that are entitled to protection under the law,” Hernandez said.

The letter from the lawyers to Wrightman mention in particular use of “NEXTerror” in a video shot in January as crews destroyed a bald eagle nest on the site of NextEra’s Summerhaven wind project in Haldimand. The tree holding the nest came down with the permission of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources. The letter from the lawyers asks Wrightman to remove that video – as well as a second one interviewing company officials about the nest – from YouTube by March 22. Read article

Anti-wind activist “won’t back down” as NextEra threatens legal action

IM000872.JPGHeather Wright, Sarnia Lambton Independent
Esther Wrightman says she’s not about to be silenced in her fight against wind turbines in her community. Wrightman, a member of Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group, recently received a Cease and Desist order from NextEra Energy after altering the company’s logo to make it read Next-terror and NextError on signs and videos.

“This use of the NextEra logo is unsanctioned, in violation of NextEra’s intellectual property rights and defamatory, especially in conjunction with the video makers’ disparaging comments about NextEra,” Awanish Sinha of McCarthy Tetrault law firm in Toronto writes to Wrightman. “While NextEra recognizes your right to object to its projects and to express your opinions regarding wind power and provincial policies regarding green energy, you do not have a right to utilize its name and logo in any manner or to defame the company.” Sinha writes company officials tried a half dozen times to talk to the activist by phone about their concerns, but weren’t able to reach her. When Wrightman added NextTerror Bullies Canada Inc. to a blog, Sinha says the company felt it had to take legal action. “The latest manipulation of NextEra’s logo has compelled NextEra to take this action and stop this escalating abuse.”

dsc03328The company told Wrightman to remove all uses of the alter logos on the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group and Ontario Wind Resistance blogs. It also calls for two videos – one of company workers removing a bald eagle’s nest which was in the way of a new project in Haldimand County. Wrightman says that video and another of a company official telling protestors the Ministry of the Environment gave permission for the nest to be cut, have been viewed thousands of times and have shocked people. “I really believe it has more to do with them wanting the eagle nest video down,” she says. Wrightman believes the letter is simply a threat that the company uses with people who don’t agree with their projects. Read article

“Cease & Desist” for NexTerror Energy? No thanks.

NexterrorBulliesMarch 22, 2013
Awanish Sinha, McCarthy Tetrault  LLP
PO Box 48, Suite 5300, Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower, Toronto, ON  M5K 1E6

Dear Mr. Sinha,
Re: CEASE & DESIST DEMAND ON BEHALF OF NEXTERA ENERGY CANADA, ULC (“NextEra”)

Thank you for the letter dated March 20, 2013 that was dropped between my doors the other day.

The reason I (and “we” the communities in rural Ontario) are referring to your client  Nextera as “Nexterror”, is that we feel it is “fair comment” considering this companies actions and behaviour in the past and present in our communities.

We believe that Nextera creates “errors” and “terrors” in our community, and that these facts are well known to the public and therefore these facts are notorious.

At the same time, we have published these facts on our website: Ontario Wind Resistance. They include:

Terror:
Eagle Nest/ Wildlife destruction

-The “First Video” clearly shows the destruction of an eagles nest.
-The “Second Video” shows Tom Bird of Nextera saying,The authorization we got from the ministry of natural resources was to destroy this nest”.

Clearly this is terrorizing the community when 18 men with chainsaws and bulldozers descend on, and proceed to cut down an active eagles nest. Even those in favour of turbines are horrified by this despicable action.

You have no right to ask that these movies be removed, and in fact you did not give a single reason as to why you thought the “Second Video” should be removed, as “Nexterror” does not appear on it anywhere. It seems that Nextera would just like to bury this incident and remove the evidence from Youtube.

Below are some of the numerous reports published on Nextera’s destruction of the eagle nest and other wildlife and their habitats:

Read the rest of this entry

Turbine opponents donate to town’s legal fight

Plympton WyomingPaul Morden, London Free Press
They’ve begun taking out their wallets and cheque books to help the town defend its wind turbine bylaws in court. About $3,000 in donations were collected by the group We’re Against Industrial Turbines – Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PW) when it held its own event Tuesday at a Suncor Energy Products public open house in Camlachie.

Suncor is seeking provincial approval to build as many as 46 wind turbines as part of its Cedar Point Wind Power project in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township. At the same time, Suncor is suing Plympton-Wyoming over several of its bylaws, including a requirement that turbines be built at least 2 kilometres away from neighbouring homes. Ontario’s rules only require a 550-metre setback. Read article

Nexterror Energy sent me a ‘cease and desist demand’. What would you do?

Nextera-Nexterror letter from lawyer Nextera-Nexterror letter from lawyer 001

“Offending” material:
Video: Wind turbine company Nextera & MNR destroy Bald Eagle Nest & Habitat in Haldimand Cty, ON
Video: Nextera Energy in damage control mode on Eagle Nest removal

NexterrorBulliesnexterror

Suncor risks reputation in fight for green

suncorChris Cooke, First Monday
Suncor Energy can tell us “renewable is part of its integrated energy strategy”. But the real strategy is to make money. And there is a lot of green in green. And that’s the only reason the energy giant is picking a fight with the residents and municipality of Plympton Wyoming.

Michael Southern, Suncor’s communications manager and general talking head can push the right buttons and say what seem like the right words, but the reality is it’s all about the money. When Suncor can sell wind power into the Ontario grid at twenty times coal – fired energy you know company executives are doing a happy dance all the way to the bank.

How lucrative is it? Lucrative enough that Suncor is prepared to put its local reputation at risk. Lucrative enough that the company is prepared to put giant wind turbines within sight of million dollar homes along Lake Huron. And Mr. Talking Head can tell those of us interested enough to ask a few questions that its all about renewable energy, being green and dutifully following the Green Energy Act. However, the reality is it is all about the money. Read article

Suncor picks fight over wind turbines in Plympton Wyoming

DSCN1849Chris Cooke, First Monday
Michael Southern says it is “rare step” for Suncor Energy to challenge a municipal bylaw but that’s exactly what the giant energy company is doing in Plympton Wyoming. Suncor wants to proceed with 46 huge wind turbines along the lakeshore east of Camlachie within sight of expensive homes and residential areas. Southern, manager, communications and stakeholder relations for Suncor says the company has listened to the concerns of residents and downsized the Cedar Point Wind Farm from 62 turbines to 46. “We are committed to working within valid bylaws and laws of the Province of Ontario” says Southern but in the case of Plympton Wyoming and Cedar Point admits “we may require discretion be provided by the courts”.

The turbines will be 99.5 metres high and have blades 56.5 metres long. Residents impacted by the project are enraged. However, they have an ally in Plympton Wyoming, which is challenging Cedar Point, and requiring industrial turbines be at least two kilometres from neighbouring homes. Read article

Energy Board flooded with objections to NextEra’s transmission project

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Sarnia Lambton Independent
NextEra Energy is facing stiff opposition to its transmission plan. Dozens of people, organizations, and businesses have filed to be interveners at an Ontario Energy Board Hearing on the transmission line project to serve three of NextEra’s projects including the Jericho Wind Energy project in Lambton Shores.

The company plans to erect 100 foot poles over 30 km along roads in Middlesex County to carry the power generated by the wind projects near Strathroy and Lambton Shores. But some neighbours are not pleased. The OEB allowed 10 days for people to register to take part in the hearing to approve the plan, at least 15 landowners and nine other organizations want a say in the hearing.

Middlesex County, Adelaide Township and North Middlesex want to be involved in the hearing. So does Hydro One, the Independent Electric System Operator, and Entegrus Transmission Lines. The Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group – a citizens group which has been objecting to the industrial wind projects in the area – also wants a say. Read article

First, mega-turbines . . . now, giant poles

By Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press
Get ready for the next tilt in Southwestern Ontario’s transformation into the province’s wind-energy hotbed: 10-storey-high poles to help collect all that power. Debora Van Brenk looks at the early static one wind energy giant’s plans are creating in Middlesex County.

A wind energy giant’s plan to put up 10-storey poles and high-voltage wires along Middlesex County roads is sparking energetic attention. The Ontario Energy Board will consider the application by NextEra Energy Canada to put up poles from its proposed three wind farms along about 30 km of Middlesex roads north and northwest of Strathroy. The county and two residents want permission to speak at a hearing — no date set yet — and more than 24 others have asked to be observers.

The county wants to make sure any poles on municipal rights-of-way don’t interfere with existing or planned infrastructure such as bridges, utilities or drainage ditches, Middlesex engineer Chris Traini. “Anything that would be of public use to the residents should take precedence over transmission poles,” he said.

The county is obligated to share its rights-of-way with utilities, and Traini said he wants to make sure residents’ interests are protected. Council has also expressed concerns about the possible effect on drivers of roadway sign and pole clutter. Traini said the county also wants the energy board to help draw lines of clear responsibility for maintenance and safety of the lines and poles. Read article

Windfall of donations for Plympton-Wyoming/Suncor court battle

plympton wyomingHeather Wright, Sarnia-Lambton Independent
They’re putting their money where their mouth is. The anti-wind group WAIT in Plympton Wyoming is accepting donations to help pay for the municipality’s court battle against Suncor Energy. Suncor is in the final planning stages of the Cedar Point Energy Project which will place about 28 industrial turbines in Plympton-Wyoming.

But Plympton-Wyoming Council balked at the project and its lack of input because of the Green Energy Act. Council passed its own bylaw under the Municipal Act to “protect the health of our people,” according to Mayor Lonny Napper. The bylaw called for turbines to be 2 km away from homes instead of  550 meters mandated by the Green Energy Act and placed large fees on each turbine for decommissioning.

The municipality was served notice of a court challenge by Suncor earlier this month. Plympton-Wyoming has vowed to fight the move, hiring lawyer Eric Gillespie who is known for his work with anti-wind activists. The move was applauded by WAIT and now it will be supported financially as well. “The council is meeting next week to figure out how they are going to pay for the legal battle, says WAIT spokesperson Elizabeth Bellavance “in the meantime, WAIT is going to accept funds on behalf of the municipality.”

WAIT has a bank account set up at the Southwest Credit Union in Wyoming to accept any donations. Donations can also be sent to WAIT at Box 219, Plympton Wyoming, N0N 1T0. Read article

Nextera Adelaide/Bornish/Jericho transmission OEB Application – file for ‘Observer’ or ‘Intervener’ status

oebPlease read through this letter from Nextera and the attached Notice of Application to the Ontario Energy Board. This is important for anyone in the Adelaide, Bornish, Jericho and Cedar Wind Point Projects.

If you haven’t filed as an ‘Observer’ or ‘Intervener’ in this hearing, please do so now (before March 24 if possible).

This is the OEB hearing on the 115kV transmission lines on 100′ poles along Kerwood and Elginfield/Nairn Rd AND the substations and switching stations. There are MANY concerns to be raised on this development – make sure your voice is heard and you are involved.

Plympton-Wyoming hires environmental lawyer

161_gillespieePaul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Plympton-Wyoming has hired a lawyer to defend its wind turbine bylaws from a court challenge by Suncor Energy Products. Mayor Lonny Napper said Toronto-based environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie is representing the town in the suit, launched recently by the company planning to build up to 46 turbines as part of its Cedar Point Wind Power project in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.

Plympton-Wyoming’s bylaws include tough rules for wind farms, including a 2-km separation from neighbouring homes. Ontario only requires a 550-metre setback.

“He came highly recommended,” Napper said of Gillespie who has experience in wind energy cases. “We had a meeting with him and we’re very pleased with the outcome.” Napper said court dates haven’t been set yet. “We’re not pulling back,” he said about the town’s resolve to defend its bylaws.

“We feel stronger about this now than we ever did before.” Read article

Send us to the ERT? Better to send us straight to the gallows.

Copy of goderich2by Harvey Wrightman
I was at the Goderich Court on Friday to hear more legal arguments about a wind project. Shawn and Trish Drennan are opposing the “K-2” wind project, a massive 142 turbine project which will cover most of Ashfield/Colborne/Wawanosh Township. At the noon recess Shawn asked me, “How does this court hearing compare to an ERT hearing?”. Well, let’s see – the motion to strike the Drennan family’s application for an injunction on the construction of the Pattern/Samsung K-2 wind project – that sentence alone illustrates how convoluted this whole wind business has become, so horribly twisted that the Drennan’s have sought to cut through it all  with a plea for relief to the Court.

The Crown and K-2 insist that there is an overall “public interest/benefit” in constructing wind energy projects. Mr. Bredt, lawyer for K-2 also submitted that “…one wouldn’t consult with the public if one wasn’t concerned about the impacts…,” he said it with the same leery smirk that I had so often seen on the  $500/hour lawyers engaged by companies for the ERT appeals.  Remarkable! This wonderful Renewable Energy Application (REA) process was so lovingly crafted to care for and protect the “receptors” (persons).  So exceptionally nurturing is this process and so intent is the government on rigorously assessing the quality of service, that we now have the attention of 2 sets (both federal and provincial) of academic/engineering/medical professionals who will “study” subsets of the subject “receptor populations” to better define the impacts on “receptors” – on a gross, averaged level, not individual specific. In the court room I’m sitting beside a person/receptor forced to move from a house surrounded by turbines, who has heard this BS far too many times.  I’m always amazed at the ability of people affected to not give in, but to continue to resist in the way they are capable of. Rural citizens are in a battle with an administrative structure gone hay-wire. Read the rest of this entry

K2 Wind project subject of court fight

GoderichPaul Cluff, London Free Press
GODERICH – Shawn and Trish Drennan got some vocal support before heading into the Huron County Courthouse for another round of a legal battle against a proposed wind farm in their home community. About 75 protestors gathered outside the Huron County Courthouse early Friday to voice their opposition to wind turbines. The Drennans are fighting the proposed K2 Wind project, which could see upwards of 140 turbines erected in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Township. It’s a provincewide issue.

“It is really important that were are here today, said Lorrie Gillis, of Flesherton, in Grey County. “There are 91 communities now who are saying no to turbines. But the new Wynne government seems determined to carry on with this. We use every means possible to fight this.”

Stan Franjkovic said the Bornish project near his home in Parkhill has raised big concerns for community members, including health issues and declining property values. Franjkovic, a realtor for 25 years, is angry with the Liberal government. Franjkovic said he left communism behind in the former Yugoslavia only to “find it again” in Canada. Read article

Wind turbine protestors outside Goderich courthouse

goderich2CTV London : Protestors were outside the Huron County Court House in Goderich Friday morning as the K2 Wind farm goes on trial.  Inside, the courtroom was full with at least 100 people in attendance.  Locals want a proposed wind farm near Goderich stopped and they have filed an injunction in court to do so. Arguments Friday morning from the province suggest Shawn and Trisha Drennans’ injunction request should be dismissed because there is an environmental tribunal panel to deal with turbine issues.

The Drennans want the project halted until a health study is completed, but the province is siding with the wind company and wants the injunction quashed. Anti-wind turbine advocates rallying outside the hearing carried signs that read, ‘Stop the wind turbines’ and ‘Rural landowners deserve democracy.’ Arguments are expected to continue all day and a decision will likely not be made on Friday.  Read article

Protest in Goderich March 1st – Arlene King: DO YOUR JOB!!!

Goderich Protest KingDate: Friday, March 1
Time:
8:30 AM
Place: Goderich Square, Goderich MAP

Bring signs to picket and to display on your vehicle, voices, friends, neighbours – you know the drill (-;

Court Proceedings begin at 9:30, but there is limited space inside. Please plan to continue picketing outside the courthouse while proceedings are going on.

We are asking as many people as possible to show up in Goderich. The motion in court was brought by HMQ and K2 to dismiss the Drennan case concerning the injunction stopping the Ministry of the Environment giving K2 a REA (Renewable Energy Approval) for approximately 138 turbines (270MW).

Suncor going to court over wind farm setbacks

suncorPaul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Suncor is taking Plympton-Wyoming to court over the town’s wind turbine bylaws, including a requirement they be at least 2 km from neighbouring homes. Suncor Energy Products has a contract to sell the province energy from the up to 46-turbine Cedar Point Wind Power project it plans to build in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township. The company launched its legal challenge of Plympton-Wyoming’s bylaws in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Sarnia at the same time it’s working through Ontario’s environmental approval process for the wind farm that would stretch from Camlachie north to Ravenswood Line.

“We expected this,” said Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper. “We’re ready to defend our bylaws.” Ontario’s Green Energy Act took planning approvals for wind farms out of the hands of municipal councils but Plympton-Wyoming pressed ahead by passing a series of bylaws to control wind projects, including setting its own 2-km setback. Ontario only requires that wind turbines be at least 550 metres from neighbouring homes.

Suncor spokesperson Jason Vaillant said the company has been working with the municipality on the issue since 2006. “We have talked to them recently about their bylaws and we feel that they are in conflict with the process that has been laid out for us by the province,” he said. Read article

Suncor taking Plympton Wyoming to court over turbine setbacks

suncor CedarPoint_WebMap3_ProjectLocation_20130127Heather Wright, Sarnia Lambton Independent
The wind war in Plympton-Wyoming is headed to court. And Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper says his municipality will fight to protect its residents against the potential health effects of wind turbines on its residents.

Suncor Energy has a contract with the provincial government for a 100 megawatt, 46 turbine project in Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores. About 28 of those turbines will go in Plympton-Wyoming in the Camlachie area. The municipality has taken an aggressive stand against the project putting in tough local regulations.

Thursday, Suncor Energy Products served the township with notice it’s challenging the municipality’s bylaws which require turbines to be two kilometers from homes, a $200,000 deposit for decommissioning and its building permit fees of $10,000. A court date has not been set yet, but Mayor Lonny Napper the township is hiring a lawyer to defend its bylaws. “We feel we have a strong case here,” says Napper. “It is our mandate under the Municipal Act to protect our people and that’s what we’re going to do.

“We’re not against wind turbines; we’re in this strictly for the health and safety of our people.” Read article

Wind Company & Ontario Government Appear to Make Mockery of Renewable Energy Approvals Process

sec. 12.1For Immediate Release
December 17, 2012

Toronto, Ontario – An  announcement by industrial wind developer WPD Canada, supported by the Ontario government, appears to make it clear to residents across Ontario that the regulatory process currently in place for granting and appealing wind projects is a mere “rubber stamp” formality.

WPD has announced that it will be establishing a facility to construct more than 50 industrial wind turbines. However, five of the six projects the facility is to supply have not been approved. In total, only four (4) of the fifty two (52) turbines, or less than eight percent (8%) that the facility will reportedly assemble and/or construct have been granted an approval.

Residents in these communities are deeply disturbed by what appears to be WPD’s, and in turn the Ontario Government’s, apparent willingness to publicly announce the facility long before the regulatory review process and any subsequent appeals to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal are complete. Read the rest of this entry

Request to Lambton County Council for Court Order to stop IWT Developments

100_1943Dear Sirs:
Request to Lambton County Council for Court Order to stop IWT Developments:

With the prorogue of the Legislature and no functional Political Leadership until some time next year, I request Council to urgently consider a Court Order to stop all activities in Lambton County with regards to the Industrial Wind Turbine projects.

The electrical energy projects in Ontario are in shambles. There are many more legal/liability problems beside the obvious Gas Plants’ cancellations created by the ill conceived and grossly mismanaged Green Energy Act.  A time-out is essential until a credible government can re-examine Ontario’s legal responsibility to its citizens and restore democratic governance.   Lambton County must protect its citizens from liabilities generated by a Government out of control and presently on the run from their responsibilities.

A $40 million 500MW transmission power project approved by the Ontario Energy Board for Lambton “in the public interest” was over the objection of the native community and many Lambton residents.  This project and more to come are not to modernize the infrastructure but are primarily to facilitate the influx of more than 300 industrial wind turbines with a height of 500 feet.  Most residents recognize the catastrophic consequence the high concentration of IWTs will have on their quality of life, health, property value, security, destruction of farmland, and the restriction to future development.  The adverse effects of IWTs on human lives in many parts of Ontario are well documented:  Bruce, Haldimand, Chatham-Kent County – the list is long. There are many victims with heartbreaking stories.  Lambton County must not allow these transmission and IWT projects to proceed. Read the rest of this entry

Anti-wind lawsuits stacking up in Ontario

by John Spears, The Star
Another group of Ontario landowners has filed a lawsuit against a wind power project in the escalating legal skirmishing over renewable energy. The latest action – against the East Lake St. Clair wind project near Wallaceburg – is the 10th that his firm is working on, according to lawyer Eric Gillespie, who filed the claim.

Like several previous actions by residents living near wind developments, the suit claims damages from not just the wind developer, International Power Canada. It also seeks damages from seven landowners who have leased out their property for turbines.

Gillespie said his clients are seeking a total of $9 million. “The claim is based on alleged devaluation of property,” Gillespie said in an interview. The claimants are asking to be compensated for up to the full value of their properties, he said.

Gilllespie said some studies have shown that property near wind power developments declines in value by up to 40 per cent. But he said some landowners near wind projects have found no buyers at all when they try to sell, which is why his clients are asking for the full value of their holdings in compensation. The East Lake St. Clair project is designed to deliver 99 megawatts of power, using about 55 turbines. Read article

Ontario wind war widens

By Jonathan Sher, John Miner, The London Free Press
Lawsuits are the new front in the fight to stop wind turbines

The war over Ontario wind turbines is shifting to the courts, with property values brandished as the main weapon by opponents of the multi-billion-dollar provincial push to develop wind farms.

Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie said he has lawsuits in the works from 10 different parts of Ontario and is in talks with at least three other groups in its southwest.

“That number is growing quite rapidly,” Gillespie said Thursday.

“Currently, we have either filed claims or are about to file claims that go all the way from Windsor to Ottawa.”

Lawsuits have already been launched in Chatham-Kent, LaSalle, Prince Edward County, Clearview/Creemore and the Stayner area.

Another lawsuit is in the works involving wind turbines in the Port Dover area.

“Property devaluation is clearly becoming a major concern right across Ontario,” said Gillespie.

The shift to fighting in the courts follows a failed campaign by anti-wind forces in last year’s Ontario’s election — the McGuinty Liberals eked out a minority government, despite losing rural seats where opposition is strongest — to stop wind-turbine development.

Southwestern Ontario, home to Ontario’s largest wind projects, is one of the key battlegrounds. Read the rest of this entry

The Rest of My Life

by Harvey Wrightman
“Streamlining” – it is repeated over and over that the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) appeal of Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) is “streamlined” to efficiently render solutions. The characters driving in from Toronto who dispense practical justice for the residents affected, all want to quicken the tempo of hymn we are all to sing – you know, “Whose Bread I Eat, His Song I Sing” – shouldn’t be too hard to find it in their song book – it’s the only one in it.

So, after a full Friday that went on and on to 5PM, one witness, Dr. Jim Salmon gave expert opinion evidence on the topic(s) of the models for the Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) – don’t you just love these acronyms(?!) – and the shadow flicker pattern (noted to NOT be required by the MOE). We learned the witness is both a founding and charter member of CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) with a background in physics and meteorology – NOT an acoustician, therefore please reserve those questions for the next “expert(s)”. So the man can basically tell us he understands the models used, but as to whether he cares about the practical application of his work – like any other apparatchik, he never questions the effects of the noise/flicker he is modelling for – not his problem.

Dave Hyslop, one of the appellants, developed a lengthy set of questions for this witness; and, though the details of both noise and shadow flicker are technically challenging, he got across several points that were to catch the attention of the panel members who followed with some rather good questions of their own. To whit, some of the questions:

Q – My office is in the cab of my tractor or combine. When I am in the field I will experience shadow flicker. Will it affect my ability to operate?
A – I can’t answer that.

Q – The cab is like a cubicle that has glass all around. Will the effects be similar to what happens in a house?
A – I don’t have a definition for that kind of receptor. I wouldn’t consider that space to be problematic for shadow flicker. The light will pass through and not be perceived in the same way.

OK, now to clean up the BS. There is a video shot inside a greenhouse in Holland. The flicker effect can only be described as “bewildering.” A nephew of mine operates a custom service to spread liquid manure. I remember him saying that the flicker effect is quite distracting and disorienting. There is a dearth of scientific investigation on the subject. It was obvious from the shadow flicker analysis that Samsung was seeking to present as low a numerical estimate (for hours affected) as possible. In addition, they were using a model that basically was geared for the dwelling only. The effect outside is expanded immensely and the shadow does not have to actually pass though the subject. Seeing it in near distance is also distracting. It is a huge property “disamenity” and it drives people wild. Read the rest of this entry

“I See”

by Harvey Wrightman
Perhaps the biggest problem with these Environmental Review Tribunal appeal hearings is we get only the “appearance” of a fair hearing. Tuesday’s session was at the Kohler Community Centre, a WW2 Air Force barracks, well maintained by the onsite caretaker who obviously must do wonders with a limited budget – I hope that point is appreciated by the team of lawyers (some @ $500/hour) who descend on our rural communities. Wishful thinking – all we get from these people are averted looks, fake smiles and condescending remarks. Like a crew of evangelists sweeping into a new land, there is no regard let alone respect for local opinion and knowledge. Our thoughts are to be replaced with the new “green” beliefs.

The room is small and we sat directly behind the Samsung counsel, Sarah Powell and Matthew Milne-Smith (hired gun prepped and loaded for the day), sitting side-by-each to the Ministry of Environment’s Frederika Rotter and Sarah Kromkamp. A tangle of cords going to the court recorder and from there to the panel members connected them all to netbook computers so that they could scroll through all the documents, and read the transcript easily. But the lines ended there. None of the appellants had the electronic hook-ups. Why? – well it was all paid for by Samsung. They aren’t going to feed the locals/plebs. Yes, that means OUR MOE has documents that as a government ministry should freely make available to us. Another example of “loading the dice”, but no surprise as this government is deep into money addiction and casinos.

The opposing counsel were nervous – Freddy back to nail biting, repeatedly turning to the audience and faintly expressing a wolfish grin. Milne-Smith (umbrella man), sat stiffly with his shoes turned up and I couldn’t help but notice that his shoes had been resoled more than once, the last time a partial heel was applied at a very odd angular cut. I guess Matthew hangs onto his nickles!

The main witness was Scott Petrie, executive director of long point waterfowl and adjunct professor at Western – a formidable, confident expert witness, and like all such people one could see that he enjoyed the advantage of his position. Try as they might, there are so few lawyers who invariably have little in the way of a science or math background, they have a hard time questioning those who do. Someone like Scott, who has 50+ publications in scientific journals can easily sit and wait for them to come to him and then pummel them back into the corner. It really is “unfair”, but given the heavy bias that is applied to appellants, an occasional battle champion is welcome. By contrast, as Dr. Petrie noted, of the 8 consultants who worked on the “natural heritage” reports there were only 5 published works from all of them – no peer-reviewed articles. With no senior manager having a research oriented cv, the pre-construction assessments and post–construction monitoring regimes are not robust. There are many holes in the reports that simply lead one to question the assumptions. Worse, there was no request from the company for data or reports that Long Point waterfowl has on hand, and no use of locals who could also provide useful information on habitats and wildlife. Instead we learn from the survey notes of Sean Male that he was able to identify only about a dozen birds. 350 of his sitings were categorized as “unknown”. Dr. Petrie remarked, “He didn’t know birds.” One cannot expect rigour where there is no basic knowledge. Read the rest of this entry

Fisherville ERT: In the Land of All Day Breakfast

by Harvey Wrightman
Make no mistake about it, from the beginning, this has been a rural/urban issue – and I don’t say that with pleasure, nor do I believe that once the issue is properly explained, most people, no matter where they live, are reasonable and sympathetic to the plight of those condemned to live in wind projects. Sitting at the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing in the Fisherville Community Centre, I look at the lawyers for the MOE/Capital Power, all seated in an orderly row, and in my boredom dream that they are there to try and comfort us – rural residents, both those in projects and the rest of us sitting on death row waiting to step into the torture chamber; or rather, the chamber comes to us – like one of those mobile x-ray trailers sent out to the hinterland. Well clearly, there is no milk of human kindness to be had here today.

The bulk of the day is taken up with arguments about the medical evidence:

  1. how much is enough
  2. who has been the foot-dragger in this hearing
  3. what to do with these “post turbine” witnesses who refuse to withdraw and indeed keep showing up at the hearings – irritating reminders of the human aspect of the “wind projects.”

This last one is clearly taking its toll on the MOE and the wind companies. Though they sit side by each at the table, they have no supporters in the audience (I have yet to see even one “lessor” attend.) They don’t even lunch together anymore. They do still confer openly with each other, but think of the “stress” they are enduring .

So, in their presentations I note that no more do they extoll the virtues of free, carbon-less wind energy. No, instead the cry is, The REA process is a STATUTORY process , “streamlined” so that the appeal decision is announced within the 6 month expiration date. Read the rest of this entry

A Lot of Loose Info

by Harvey Wrightman
You can see the “effects” of the never-ending days of  the Environmental Review Tribunal appeals taking its toll on the Ministry of Environment and the Samsung lawyers. Yesterday in Cayuga, the MOE’s Frederika “Freddy” Rotter periodically lurches her whole body in a comic swing to gaze at the audience. At other times she fiddles with her Blackberry. She furtively chews her nails. It’s like watching a kid with stimulation overload.

(left) MOE Freddy & (right) Samsung Sarah

Sarah Powell, Samsung counsel, will flip her glasses on and off, or her foot will almost enter orbit in a clonic spasm somewhere in the range of  200 Hz. On another occasion she was lifting one foot, then the other repeatedly in a trance-like movement.

Why all the worry? There’s a lot riding on this project. No one has control of it. The traditional Onkwehonwe are highlighting some serious deficiencies in the consultation process – to the point that both the MOE and Samsung state clearly that this hearing can NOT make any decisions on the consultation process. So, was that bit of admonishment for the ERT panel’s benefit? Certainly the Onkwehonwe’s Bill Monture and Lester Green were having no part of that scolding as they blew holes in the project documents submitted by the company. A modicum of real consultation with locals, especially the Onkwehonwe who know the “natural features” of the area so well, would have produced more accurate reports. Of course, like the elite mutts that seem to run all these “so-called, green energy” enterprises, they assume that local people know nothing and are merely a “nuisance” to the greater plans of the government/wind company coalition.

Mr. Samsung in the gallery

Some of the salient points made:

1)      The 800 acre solar project is centred within the wind project development area, and the substation for the wind development is to be located within the fenced in solar parcel. But, the Onkwehonwe were told by ERT chairman Robert Wright, that the wind appeal could not include anything about the solar project. It was a separate case.
Both the wind and solar were presented to 6 Nations as one project, not 2 separate projects which is why the Onkwehonwe did not appeal the solar approval. The reality for ordinary citizens is: how many appeals can one afford the time, energy and money for, especially if they occur during the same period of time?

2)       Lester Green found many discrepancies in the bird studies reports. The field survey notes for these often showed that very little field time was allotted to important species, sometimes only an hour or two of actual observation was involved. Worse were field reports with no specific logs of dates or time spent for observations. As Lester said, “loose work…as long as you word it in a correct manner, it’s OK the project can go ahead.”

  • In addition, studies were conducted at inappropriate times of the day or in the wrong season. Thus the catch-phrase, “…nothing found in the study area” is used repeatedly even in known special habitats. As Lester simply said, “…look to the hunters and plant gatherers…there are certain times to find specific life forms.”  One of the more “eye-brow-raising” examples was a survey for an amphibian, Jefferson’s salamander, which though it is terrestrial, breeds in vernal pools (so that no tadpole eating fish are present.) The survey was done in September – no sightings, no mitigation plan needed.
  • The 2009 Hatch reports do mention eagle sightings, yet strangely, Stantec surveyors didn’t see any and wrote that eagles are absent from the study area.
  • Which brings up the whole question of “the study area.” By some odd twist, it magically ends at the Grand River and somehow, and I’m not quite sure how you can ignore the River, but it is NOT considered to be a water body within 120m of the project., and neither are its numerous tributaries.
  • Both Lester and Bill pointed out the absurdity of the “migration corridors” approach provided for migrating birds. “Air space” should be considered a natural heritage feature – part of bird habitat. Instead the Samsung treatment is more like a “turbine rodeo” or “shooting gallery” of hazards for the birds to navigate.

Lester and Bill, traditional Onkwehonwe

In summing up Lester made these points:

Re: so-called expert witness testimony, “In your way, if it (testimony) doesn’t have a doctor’s certificate attached with a bunch of letters, it’s not valid…(but) all the loose information in those thick volumes (of project documents) means absolutely nothing without the consent of the people.”

On the ultimate responsibility for the care of the land: “…these turbines are your idea, but are being put on our land…” in which the Onkwehonwe have a very great and personal interest.

…And…

Without any fanfare, Lester presented copies of the petition that 165 traditional  Onkwehonwe signed. The same petition received by 6 Nations elected council in April. When asked for comment, neither Rotter nor Powell objected to the petition being submitted as “evidence”, but both of them questioned the “relevance” of the petition.

In a voice that communicated sincerity and a quiet confidence, Lester stated, “There are men and women waiting to see what is decided…There’s going to be men and women standing against this. We’re just following our laws, our ways, and our practices. You didn’t have our consent. It’s an insult. There’s no way to go back and revisit this.”